Tag Archive: fatherhood

Jun 13

First Step

My son took his first step this morning. He’s been standing unassisted for several seconds at a time since last weekend, and standing up without using furniture for about as long, but this morning was different. He was clinging to the door frame in the kitchen and was making inarticulate “Daddy, come here” noises. I moved to about two meters away and motioned for him to come to me.

“Come here, Hammy!”20140530_093855-Edit

Usually, he’d let go of the door frame, drop to a crawl, crawl over to me, and then hoist himself back up using my legs for leverage. Today, he let go of the door frame and took one clear step toward me, and then half of another one before sinking to his knees.

But that was his first clear step, and I’m so happy that I was there for it. Given that he spends more than half of his waking hours at the preschool during the week, and that it’s usually my wife playing with him on the weekends, I feel pretty lucky that I was present (the only one present) for at least one major milestone of Hammy’s development.

He’s actually behind most of his contemporaries for walking. Both the other 13-month-old kids at the preschool are already toddling around and have been for a couple of weeks. But that’s okay. I was a late walker too. I’m still a slow learner—I really don’t like doing anything until I’m sure I can do it. (He’s way ahead on climbing skills, though.)

20140612_170125Speaking of the daycare, yesterday was an official parents-visit day. This week and next week are, in fact, days when parents can book themselves in for a morning and participate in classes. (That’s him in the cardboard box in the photo on the left.) We’ve been told that Hammy is an angel at daycare usually, and I believe it. He rarely cries when I drop him off, and even then he’s forgotten about me within 30 seconds of saying goodbye and is playing contentedly. When I drop him off and pick him up, I frequently see or hear a lot of the other children in his class bawling their wee heads off, but I’ve only seen him do it once—he’d only napped for 40 minutes that day and was overtired.

But yesterday, after he noticed that I was staying, he broke out of his blissful mode, crawled over to me during morning story-reading, and started fussing. He was a huge pain in the backside for about 75% of the time I was there, being just as fussy as he usually is in the evenings when I bring him home. At least, my wife told me, they’ll have some idea of what he’s like at home.

Sure, I guess. But I’d kind of like them to go on thinking he’s always that beatific boy I drop off and pick up.

Apr 30

Almost One Year of Ham

IMG_8539Hammy turned 11 months two weeks ago. Only a few more weeks until we celebrate his first birthday. I thought I should make some comments on him, or fatherhood, or something. I wish I’d been less busy and able to do it incrementally, but even writing in his baby book became difficult with a big show and fundraising campaign on the front burner.

So much has changed since I last wrote about him. When was the last time, anyway? Like six months ago? He’s got teeth now, four of them, which he occasionally uses to bite us with. His behaviour is become more discernable. He’s started pointing in the last few weeks, although figuring out what he’s pointing at is a crapshoot, since he doesn’t seem to understand that his finger needs to target the object. He tends to raise his arm almost straight up and then point his finger in a downward curve no matter what he’s trying to point at.

What else? I think he’s started to understand kissing in the last month, and hugging in the last week. He doesn’t really kiss. He places his mouth on someone (or something in the case of the giant stuffed gorilla Rau-chan) and drools. But it’s close. A bit disconcerting when he unexpectedly does it on one’s open mouth while one is talking to him. I certainly hope his technique improves before he starts kissing for real in his teens. The hoikuen (daycare) reported to me yesterday that he really likes hugging people. Given that we’re always hugging him and each other at home, I don’t find this surprising, but it’s nice to hear that it’s been noticed.

Kumiko’s _IMG_1372In the last month, he’s started getting picky with food. Nothing specific. It changes from day to day what he will and won’t eat.

Speaking: It’s been “abwaaababa” or some variation for a while now. About a month ago, I’d trained him to say “da” and “dada” as well, but he seems to have lost that as well while I was off doing my show. Although one morning in production week, he woke me up by standing at the foot of the bed and shouting “DA!” at the top of his lungs.IMG_0239

Right: standing. Still not standing unassisted, but since February he’s been cruising around using furniture. Recently, he’s added walls to his repertoire. He’ll readily walk around the house if someone holds his hands for balance. He also loves to climb things. I am seeing a few bruises and possible broken limbs in his future as he gets older and more adventurous.

I could add that Hammy seems very interested in technology, but I’m not sure if that’s a valid observation on my part, or a tendency to project parts of my own personality onto my little offshoot. Until he can talk, we won’t know, and I’m going to do my best not to Kumiko’s _IMG_2532influence his interests in that regard. I really look forward to giving him his own computer in a few years, though.

Rolling back for a second: Hoikuen.

Hoikuen is basically the Japanese version of daycare. Why is our 11-month old in daycare? Well, places in daycare are hard to get, and if you don’t get in at the beginning (age 0+), when there are the most places, you may not get your kid in at all. Since my wife and I both work, and my mother-in-law is busy babysitting the four other wee ones in the family, daycare is a necessity. My schedule means that I’m frequently working at home, but during the weeks leading up to a show, I could be away from the house from 9:00am to one 20140328_174718o’clock the next morning. Also, at any time I could get a job that requires me to work my pants off (figuratively speaking: those in the know understand that I rarely wear pants) for a week or more on a special project of some sort. Also, from this April, I’ve started teaching acting one day a week at a university in Saitama, which means I’m out of the house from 7:00 to 21:00 or later, depending on trains and how much I need to talk with my students after my last class. So yeah, we need child care enough, and only the full-time option is subsidized by the city. No brainer, really.

Hammy cried the first couple of times we left him there. Once he figured out what we were doing, anyway. He would glare at us and scream the scream of raw betrayal. From the second week, however, he hardly acknowledges us leaving… he’s so eager to go explore and play with new toys. I have to take his temperature in the morning when we arrive, and if the group starts singing the clean-up song while I’m doing that, he starts squirming because he wants to go join them.

So far, though, he is gratifyingly happy to see me at the end of the day when I go to pick him up. 

20140418_181449

I guess I should sum things up here, but honestly, I don’t have a summation or a conclusion. I’m not quite 12 months into being a father, and I really probably won’t know what to think until after it’s all over and baby Hammy has flown the nest.

It’s going to be hard to get out of the habit of calling him Baby Hammy, though. Maybe I should do it into his teen years for maximum embarrassment.

Feb 08

Thoughts on Fatherhood

So, the cat is out of the bag, and I can finally officially write about it: my first offspring is due (if all goes well) in mid-May. Sadly, my own father didn’t live long enough to meet his third grandchild.

Hammy_FixedThe photo on the right is the first (and last) ultrasound photo of Hammy I’m going to post. Frankly, I think posting a whole bunch of blurry ultrasound photos is a very uninteresting thing to clutter people’s SN feeds with. I will try to remember the golden rule that other people find your children to be about 0.01% as interesting as you do, and post accordingly.

As you can see, my stagerabbit-junior-to-be is already sporting the devil’s horns that my family have had ground off at birth for the last 1000 years or so in order to avoid being burnt at the stake.

Hammy is the womb-name that we’re using, as I think it’s bad form to bestow a proper name before the wee thing is properly detached from its mother. I’ve expressed this as “not wanting to jinx it”, but it’s more of a hedge against last minute mind-changing. You never know what’s going to happen when you look at that baby; maybe you’ll decide that “Akuma” isn’t the best name after all.

 

I have so many conflicting thoughts about the whole fatherhood thing, particularly thoughts like “oh my dog, I’m going to totally ruin this kid!”. On the other hand, I’ve got the entirely delusional “I’m going to make unconventional choices for my child that are going to uniquely prepare Hammy to make his or her mark upon the world.” And then a bunch of other stuff swirling around, including the dark thoughts that we’re just a little over halfway through the pregnancy now and there is still so much that could go wrong.

I’m already doing a lot of planning: early toilet-training, hauling Hammy back and forth from rehearsals, discipline methods, etc.  Of course, I understand that no battle plan survives contact with the… er… progeny, but is it not better to have a plan? I wonder if I have some kind of advantage because I’m coming into this later than a lot of people do. On the other hand, maybe being in my late thirties rather than my twenties will mean I will have less energy.

Also, I wonder about providing for a child. Many people I know have lectured me about the expense of having a child, but come on, really? Poor people have children all the time. Surely I don’t need to be a fucking account executive (baaaarrrrfffff)  with a rising-star IT firm in order to give my family a good life? Maybe I’ll change my mind on this and eventually have to go back to having a “real” job, but I’m going to hang onto my ideals as long as I can. I think “follow your dreams; money isn’t everything” is a much better message to give your children than: “do well in school, get into a good university, get a good job, and then crank out kids of your own to do the same”. Am I totally fucking wrong?

My parents, particularly my father, worked hard so that I would be able to make choices like that. By following my dreams, no matter the financial cost, am I maybe going to achieve the opposite result and raise a little account executive (baaaaarrrrffff)? Is that how this works? Shit. I don’t know.

In absence of gnosis on the subject, I think my only choice it to do what I’ve been doing and be true to myself.

 

Right?

 

Fuck, this father thing is hard, and I haven’t even had to change a shitty diaper yet.

 

 

P.S. For friends and family reading this; those inclined to give gifts, allow me to sound ungrateful in advance and say that we have plenty of toys and clothes already (Hammy will be the 7th child born in our combined families). What we really need are English-language books for and about wee children. When I eventually have time to think about this, I will post an Amazon wish list for this here: http://www.amazon.co.jp/registry/wishlist/1U1J9Y7UOB2YP (For now it’s just a stub.)